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Research is one of the key foundations on which effective fisheries management is built. Knowledge and understanding of the state and characteristics of fisheries resources and of their environment, together with the social and economic circumstances of the fishery should provide the basis for management decisions, as forseen in UNCLOS. Much of the research needed for effective fisheries management is location specific, such as the status of a particular fish stock, production systems and economic and social factors. However, research capacities differ widely among countries as does the gap between potential research enquiry and limited resources available for research. Many developing countries lack the financial and personnel abilities to meet their research needs and require national capacity-building.

One way to bridge this ever-widening gap and help meet research needs in particular regions and types of fisheries is through cooperative research efforts. For instance, regional fishery bodies (or regional fishery management organizations) are responsible for assessing and monitoring the state of the fisheries and resources placed under their jurisdiction as a basis for their management. In order to do so, working groups of selected experts are often established.

The Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research serves to enhance FAO's role as a coordinator of international fisheries and aquaculture research aimed at fostering responsible fisheries management. An improved understanding of the marine environment in order to enable and promote the sustainable use of aquatic resources is at the core of many other research endeavors, including the multi-UN agency Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).

FAO, working with the support of a wide range of donors, provides assistance to member countries in fisheries-related matters (such as laws and regulations, policy, development and management) through dedicated field projects funded from extra-budgetary resources. These can vary in breadth and scope depending on the issue and coverage. Being responsive to research needs and improving overall fisheries research in developing countries, contributes to promoting sustainable fisheries practices and supporting responsible fisheries management decisions.

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